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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > Aug/Sept 2019 > Canned heat

Canned heat

Propane can do a lot more than just cook your dinner. How to buy, haul, store, and, of course, use it at the cottage
LIAM MOGAN

Propane emits fewer greenhouse gases than other fuels and about half the CO2 as charcoal.

Next time

you’re wondering whether there will be enough propane for Saturday’s barbecue or if the low will peter out somewhere between the tank and dinner, try this science demo. Pour some hot tap water down the side of the tank, then run your hand along it to feel the boundary where cold metal becomes warm: that’s the level of propane.

The hot water test shows that most of the propane in your cylinder is liquid, sloshing around the bottom and absorbing more heat from the water than the pocket of propane gas on top. If it were all gas in there, like a balloon or a scuba tank, the entire metal sheath would absorb heat evenly.

And that there’s a liquid in there is more than just a fun science fact. When liquid propane becomes gas, as it does when it leaves the cylinder, it expands to about 270 times its volume. (Technically, your tank is called a “cylinder” if it can be legally transported with propane inside.) Propane gas has about 2.5 times as much energy as the same volume of methane (natural gas), so that small portable cylinder holds a lot of grilling potential. We use propane because it’s a combustible gas with high energy content that’s easy to compress into a liquid.

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About Cottage Life

Dive into this special vintage edition of Cottage Life for a look at the cottage then and now. In this issue we’ll show you the highs, lows, wins, losses, and questionable cottage fashion of days gone by. Want to know what your cottage junk is worth? We explored dusty cupboards and sheds to find out. You’ll meet cottagers who have been going to (and DIYing in) the Thousand Islands for 100 years. We’ll share tips for buying, hauling, storing, and using propane, the super-useful fuel that does more than barbecue your dinner. Do you know a disaffected cottage teen? Or were you one? Take a peek into the mind of a teenager who had to leave the cottage to find it again. We found a cooler that can keep ice frozen for three weeks (but it’s not cheap). You’ll find answers to reader questions about ticks, asbestos shingles, and pressure-treated lumber, and we’ll deliver the fine print on using fireworks at the lake, plans for building a classic wooden marble game, and an easy way to scribe deck boards. Plus, don’t miss fun and delicious updates to your favourite summertime meals, from burgers to s’mores. Get the Aug/Sept 2019 issue of Cottage Life today for a taste of summer at its best!